Editor’s Note: The “Proud of Them” initiative recognises the positive achievements of people between the ages of 10 and 25. Through a public nomination process, individuals are honoured in the categories of academics, careers, business, sports, culture or community service. Each person selected will be featured for six months at a time on billboards throughout the Cayman Islands, and will also receive a certificate.
Success is rarely easy. Just ask 19-year-old Brian Watler Jr. a talented young man who found great joy in following his dream of working in the arts.
Brian’s belief is simple, “No matter what the situation might be, you should never make it break you or stop you from putting out your best.” With this philosophy to guide him he already has several achievements under his belt.
Notable among these is serving as prefect and head boy at the John Gray High School from September 2009 through June 2010. During this time, he was also one of the few students chosen to represent the school and country at the Global Young Leaders Conference in China.
Passionate about the arts, a growing field in the Cayman Islands, he is studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, to gain a bachelor’s degree in motion media with a minor in graphic design.
His advice to others who have a love of the arts is clear.
“For the young people out there that may want to follow in my footsteps, I’d say keep on keeping on,” he said. “Whatever you have your mind set on, continue until it’s done. Never allow anyone to discourage you; there will be many. My interests are performing arts (theatre), art, media, photography, graphic design and none of these areas were offered when I was in school. I don’t think they are to this day, but because it’s what I love and enjoy doing, I am doing it.”
Brian’s dreams could not have been achieved without support, and he credits his mother and godmother with keeping him focused.
“My mother has contributed to my many accomplishments,” he added. “She’s always so supportive and took me places when I did not have my licence. Even now, she sacrifices her time to see me excel at whatever it may be. When I chose performing arts, art, media studies and religious education as my Year 11 and 12 options, she had nothing negative to say, but supported me 100 per cent. I told her I wanted to be an actor, filmmaker, photographer, graphic designer – all of these things and she always responded, ‘if it’s what you enjoy, do it. Don’t go for a job because of the pay,’” he said.
He also thanks his godmother, who, he says, has been just as supportive as his mother.
“My godmother went through many of the same things I’m going through and her stories help mold me,” he said.
When he returns to the Cayman Islands during the summer, Brian moves straight from his studies to a summer job as a volunteer teaching assistant.
“I get bored easily and so I’m constantly on the go. When I sit at home and do nothing, I feel useless and so I volunteer at the Clifton Hunter High School and North Side Primary when I’m available.”
The youth of the Cayman Islands have always been close to his heart.
“I enjoy speaking with and encouraging young people,” he said. “This is why I volunteer at the primary and high School when I can. If I can be a big brother to all of these young people, I will. I’m always there to support them.”
When Brian found out that he would be receiving the Proud of Them Award he was completely shocked.
“I was in one of my lectures at university when I got a text,” he said. “It was a really exciting feeling. At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh, maybe there weren’t many others nominated why I was selected,’ but when I found out that there were almost 200 nominees, wow. I’m truly thankful that people in my community saw fit to nominate me.”
“I thank God for all of the many blessings he’s given me. When they say ‘when you give to the community, you get back,’ they were completely honest,” he adds.
Outlining his professional plans for the future, he said, “I want to become a successful graphic and motion media designer and still be involved with theatre, film and all of those creative things at the same time.”
With his ambition, vision and work ethic there can be little doubt he will achieve his goals.